Purpose of Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani’s recent visit to China was maybe to celebrate the 60 th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the real focus is bound to be on how Pakistan can shore up ties with its most reliable ally after Osama bin Laden was found on Islamabad’s doorstep. Contrary to what some might think, such meetings could be a good thing, because the United States will need China’s help to stabilize its troubled partner. Since September 11 , US officials have tried to constrain Pakistani support for the Taliban and other terrorist groups, while relying heavily on its backing for the military campaign against al- Qaeda. But bilateral ties have remained tense, because of both Pakistan’s assistance to Islamist extremists and popular Pakistani anger over US drone attacks along the Afghan-Pakistani border, which many Pakistanis believe stoke the terrorist danger in their country. No amount of economic aid by the Obama administration has been able to ease Pakistani concerns over US counterterrorist policies and Washington’s ties with India, with opinion polls showing that Pakistanis now overwhelmingly view China more favorably than the United States. Indeed, Americans are only shielded from the harsh reality of Pakistan’s views by distance and by the fact that its ruling coalition is led by the Western-oriented Pakistan People’s Party, which has traditionally enjoyed good ties with the United States. The opposition parties are generally, let’s say, less well-disposed toward Washington. Enter China, whose officials are quick to defend Pakistani policies, including its commitment to counterterrorism efforts—even after the bin Laden affair. While US officials have indicated that they couldn’t trust their Pakistani counterparts with advance news of the raid, the Chinese government has called for even greater support for Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts as well as respect for its sovereignty. Such views are based on a history of security cooperation. China has become one of Pakistan’s leading suppliers of conventional arms, and as well as selling weapons systems such as the Chengdu J-10 fighter planes and Zulfiquar class F-22 P frigates, Chinese and Pakistani firms now engage in the joint production of important military hardware, such as the JF17 Thunder (FC-1 Fierce Dragon) fighter. Bilateral security cooperation has also extended to include the training of Pakistani defense personnel, the sharing of military intelligence, and the holding of joint military and counterterrorist exercises. But perhaps most importantly in Pakistani eyes, the Chinese have, unlike the Americans, provided Pakistan with weapons that Islamabad can use against India. Chinese strategists, for their part, are happy to indulge Pakistan’s concerns over New Delhi as a way to keep a rising India distracted. Beijing’s most significant assistance, though, came in the 1980 s and 1990 s, when China transferred considerable nuclear technology to Pakistan, allegedly including the designs for a nuclear bomb as well as the components to make it. China has certainly improved its nonproliferation policies in recent decades. However, it remains the only major nuclear power willing to help Pakistan to develop its civilian nuclear energy sector, providing technical and other dual-use assistance that could potentially assist Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme. In fact, just this month yet another Chinese-made nuclear reactor, based at the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant, began operations. But it’s not just military assistance that has left Pakistan so well- disposed toward China—Beijing also plays an important role in the Pakistani economy. Bilateral trade remains modest at less than $10 billion annually, and Beijing provides much less economic assistance than Washington, but thousands of Chinese nationals— engineers, advisors, laborers, and others—work in Pakistan. Chinese firms have invested heavily in Pakistan’s infrastructure projects such as road networks, electric power generation, and telecommunications. This focus on infrastructure reflects the Chinese perception that Pakistan serves as a key energy and trade conduit linking China with Central Asia and the Middle East. All of this assistance from Beijing comes with fewer strings attached than Washington tends to add. The official Chinese position is that China’s aid is for peaceful purposes, meets Pakistan’s demonstrable need for more civilian energy, involves only legally permissible items, and escapes Nuclear Supplier Group ( NSG) restrictions because it began before Beijing joined that body. Unofficially, Chinese representatives argue that, since the United States and other countries are waiving NSG rules to provide India with nuclear assistance, Beijing has the right to provide comparable aid to Pakistan. The United States, in contrast, can be painted as a villain—US opposition to Chinese-Pakistan civil nuclear cooperation makes it appear as if Washington is indifferent to Pakistan’s genuine energy needs, even as it faces a major shortage of electricity and the additional nuclear plants would help relieve this shortfall. Yet although the United States must continue to oppose disruptive Chinese nuclear assistance to Pakistan, US policymakers should still be much more enthusiastic about encouraging China to assume a greater role in supporting Pakistan’s economic development and conventional military power. Aside from their differences over nuclear nonproliferation, China has generally supported US policies toward Pakistan, even if Chinese spokespeople don’t trumpet this fact. And while the Chinese government has parried Western pressure and repeatedly refused to contribute even logistical support to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, its leaders don’t challenge the legitimacy of the NATO military operations there. Indeed, they want the alliance to continue to promote the country’s economic and political reconstruction as well as protect China’s growing investment in Afghanistan’s natural resources— even if they have yet to endorse a long-term Western military presence in their region. Like the Americans, Chinese leaders are also concerned about Pakistani links with terrorism, whatever they say publicly. The difference with China is that disagreements are normally expressed in private, as Beijing relies on its ties with the Pakistani government and military to dissuade Islamist terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan from attacking Chinese targets or from assisting Uighur militants seeking to weaken Beijing’s hold over Xinjiang. Chinese officials have actually repeatedly complained to their Pakistani counterparts about the presence of East Turkestan Islamic Movement cells reportedly based in Pakistan’s tribal areas. In return, Pakistani leaders have strived to appear responsive to Chinese concerns, more so than with US complaints. Since assuming office in September 2008 , Pakistani President Asif Ali Zaradari has traveled to Beijing about once every three months, largely to reassure Chinese policymakers who presumably preferred dealing with his authoritarian predecessor, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Meanwhile, if the United States and NATO were to withdraw from Afghanistan, Chinese officials would presumably seek to leverage their ties with Pakistan’s security forces and political parties to act as mediators with the Taliban to work out a deal whereby the Taliban would defend the China commercial and strategic interests in Afghanistan. According to media reports, Pakistani leaders are already calling on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to switch his primary allegiance from Washington to Beijing. Yet the reality is that Chinese officials would prefer if Western governments continued bearing the costs of making Afghanistan safe and profitable for Chinese investors. Although NATO has committed to fulfilling China’s wishes for the next few years, the growing strains between Washington and Islamabad will require Beijing to compensate by playing a greater role in keeping Pakistan economically viable and militarily secure. Beijing certainly has sufficient capabilities and interests to warrant increasing its efforts. A half-century of close collaboration between Chinese and Pakistan gives Beijing sufficient weight in Islamabad to pressure Pakistan’s military and intelligence services to curtail their support for Islamist extremists. In the past, China has used its ties with Pakistan’s security forces to suppress militant groups that have attacked Chinese workers in Pakistan or supported Uighur separatists. So far, China hasn’t employed its influence to promote security sector reform, the rule of law, or other needed reforms. Yet although we (sadly) can’t expect China’s authoritarian leaders to promote democracy and human rights in Pakistan, the United States and its allies might still be able to persuade Chinese policymakers that Pakistan needs to reform its security sector to become a stable and prosperous country. As long as Pakistan’s military and intelligence forces indulge in terrorist ties, the country will remain a potential threat not just to the United States and its allies, but to China as well. It’s up to Beijing now to make Islamabad see the error of its ways.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Not only is the Pakistani public angry, but this is the first time in the country’s 63 years that the Army chief and the head of the ISI have had to appear before the legislature to offer an explanation. Dear Friends,” read the SMS, “ Please don’t fwd any jokes that ridicule our army.” The message, among several sent out in Islamabad a week after Osama bin Laden’s killing, struck a plaintive note. Another read, “We were there for you in 1948 , 1965 & 1971. We were there on Indian Tiger Hills (sic) in Kargil…Be with us when we have been stabbed in the back.”All were ostensibly trying to counter the flood of messages in the week before, from “Please don’t honk, the army is sleeping,” to “Second-hand Pakistani radar for sale — can’t detect US helicopters, but gets Star Plus just fine,” all pointedly targeting the army over Operation Osama. For Pakistan’s military establishment and particularly its chief, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the humour has just added to the serious pressures he faces, and while many predict the army will soon be able to put the episode behind it, evidence points otherwise. It is not so much Osama’ s killing, as the reactions that have followed that could become the game-changer for Pakistan since, for one rare moment, it is Pakistan’ s army alone that is the focus of the intense scrutiny. To begin with is the pressure of the US warnings to the military to investigate the “support structures” that allowed America’s most wanted to live in Abbotabad. Visiting US officials have reinforced the tough messages with threats to cut off aid. Since 2002 the US transferred about $20 billion to Pakistan, two-thirds of which has gone to the army’s coffers. For 2011-2012 the Obama administration has indented for another $3 bn as aid, plus $2.3 bn for counter-terrorism. All these figures are now being questioned by the US Congress, with a bill calling for Pakistan’s government to “certify it wasn’t aware of bin Laden’s presence” in the works. Washington has also been cutting reimbursements to Rawalpindi, rejecting a whopping 40 per cent of all claims made by the military for expenses in the war on terror last year. Trust levels between the two countries are at their lowest ebb, but the US need for Pakistan hasn’t changed with the circumstances of Osama’s death. With time, the hunt still on for other Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders, Washington’s drawdown plan in Afghanistan, and the need to keep China at bay, could all see the US return to form, keeping friends close, but Pakistan closer, as it were. The real break from the past, instead, is in Pakistan’s public mood. On a visit to Pakistan days after Operation Geronimo, it was clear that the people’s anger at the US was rivalled only by the open rage at the Army. While the rest of the world asked, “How did Osama live in Pakistan without being caught?” people on the streets were only obsessed by the humiliating question, “How did US forces sneak in and out for the operation without being intercepted?” In one of Islamabad’s bazaars we were accosted by one visibly upset shopkeeper. “It’s one thing that the army has starved us all these years in the name of national security,” he railed, “but where was all their technology and intelligence when the Americans were flying into our country?” Another man questioned why ISI chief Shuja Pasha had been flying back and forth from Washington. Surprisingly, few doubted the American claim that if Osama lived in Abbottabad for years, he must have had some support from officials. The signs of a shift in public perception could not have escaped Gen. Kayani, known to read newspapers and magazines extensively. Many are now even likening the post-Geronimo fall from grace of Pakistan’s strongest institution to the post-1971 war, calling for a White Paper on what the Army knew and when. Despite the public mood, the only change in the balance of power inside Pakistan will come if the politicians push for it. And it is on this count that Kayani has the most to think about. Many reported the confrontational scenes involving Lt-Gen. Shuja Pasha in the National Assembly, but few noted that it was the first time in Pakistan’s 63 years that the Army Chief and the ISI chief had to appear for an explanation before the legislature at all. Eventually, the words that won applause from across the political ranks came from MNA Javed Hashmi, who asked Pasha and Kayani, “We know you are burdened with responsibilities…how about you give some of them back to us?” Even PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif has signalled that despite his differences with the ruling PPP, when it comes to holding the Army accountable, the politicians are closing ranks. Ironically, it was Kayani who tried, at the beginning of his tenure, to give back some of the army’s powers, withdrawing his officers from running 23 public concerns, including National Highways, Education, Water and Power. He also submitted to the PPP government’s decision to institute the first-ever parliamentary oversight committee on national security in 2008 , and in an effort to show he would not go the way of previous military-chiefs- turned-rulers, ordered his officers to avoid contact with politicians. In the past two weeks Kayani has shown he is not unaware of the flak his force faces — the SMS campaign was only one part of a counter-strategy. He has also met with newspaper and television editors on two separate occasions in the past month, and conducted town-hall style meetings with his officers in at least five garrisons. It seems unlikely that other options open to his more adventurous predecessors when under pressure — of toppling the government, or upping the ante with India — would help Gen. Kayani’s cause at present. Eventually, it is the mood of his own men that will be the cause of the most worry for the Army Chief, particularly the deep schisms of mistrust that seem to be building between a professional, liberal rank, and an extremely devout, anti-american file. In his book Pakistan: A Hard Country, British author Anatol Lieven, known for his deep access to the military, says ‘ the single most dangerous trend’ he found was the difficulties parents faced in finding a bride for sons in the military, as in villages, they were increasingly viewed as ‘ slaves of the Americans who are killing fellow-Muslims.’ Conversely, there is the worry within other ranks of growing jihadism, one that will not allow the military to sever its bonds with groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Afghan Taliban, giving rise to the fear that radicalised officers perhaps also protected Osama bin Laden at his Abbottabad home. With each successive bomb blast, many within the military are making the connection that the groups they’ve fed and nurtured are now eating into the army’s own structure. Whatever the end, the army’s introspection following the discovery of Osama bin Laden is throwing up a rare moment for Gen. Kayani. And as he deals with the growing pressures from the world, Pakistan’s public and polity, the army’s debate over its national role, post-Osama, is in fact, a fight for the future of Pakistan.
India has been confronted with periodic eruptions of insurgencies and terrorism in different parts of the country since it became independent. These have had different causes—- feelings of ethnic separatism as in the tribal areas of North-East India, feelings of religious separatism as in Punjab before 1995 and in Jammu & Kashmir since 1989 , feelings of economic deprivation and exploitation as in the tribal areas of Central India, feelings of injustice to the Muslim minority as in different parts of India which had seen sporadic acts of terrorism by a group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen and feelings of anger in sections of the majority Hindu community over the perceived inaction or ineffective action of the State against acts of terrorism by elements in the Muslim community with or without the support of Pakistan. 2. These insurgencies and terrorism outbreaks have had different ideological underpinnings such as the following: • A belief that the tribal and other people of the North-East in states such as Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Assam are ethnically different from the people in other parts of India. • A conviction that their different religion ( Sikhism in the case of Punjab and Islam in the case of some sections of the people of J&K) gives them the right to have a separate status as compared to the people in other parts of India, who are largely Hindus. • A belief that only by following the Marxist/Maoist ideology can one end the economic deprivation and exploitation of the poor tribals in central India by non-tribals. • A belief that the Indian criminal justice system is unfair to the Muslims in other parts of India. • A conviction among some elements in the Hindu community that since the State has not been able to deal effectively with acts of terrorism by sections of the Muslim community they have to defend themselves by indulging in acts of retaliation against the Muslims. 3. The problem has been complicated by the past attempts of China to use the Marxist/Maoist oriented insurgents/terrorists to serve its own strategic agenda and by the continuing attempts of Pakistan to use jihadi terrorists of different kinds in J &K and other parts of India to serve its strategic agenda. China and Pakistan have a common agenda of wanting to keep India weak and unstable. Pakistan also has the additional agenda of wanting to create a divide between the Muslims and the Hindus and annexe the State of J&K where the Muslims are in a majority in certain areas like the Valley. 4. While the Chinese support to the Marxist/Maoist insurgents/ terrorists has stopped after 1979 , the Pakistani support to the jihadi terrorists has continued in different parts of India . The Pakistani support is influenced by different motives such as a desire to force a change in the status quo in J&K, create a polarization between the Hindu and Muslim communities in other parts of India and to slow down the economic development of India. 5. Its desire to change the status quo in J&K has resulted in a continuous insurgency situation in the State since 1989 , which is now showing signs of some improvement. Its attempt to create a polarization between the Muslims and the Hindus in other parts of India has been reflected in the sporadic acts of jihadi terrorism in different parts of India. Its desire to use terrorism to slow down the economic development of India has led to three acts of mass casualty terrorism in Mumbai, the economic capital of India—-in March 1993 , July 2006 and November,2008. These incidents resulted in fatalities of more than a hundred. There have been other acts of jihadi terrorism sponsored by Pakistan in Mumbai, but they resulted in fatalities of less than a hundred. 6. Of all the threats of insurgency/ terrorism faced by India, the most persistent and the most difficult to control has been the Maoist insurgency/ terrorism in the tribal areas of Central India, which have not benefited from the rapid economic progress of the rest of India and where the State has not been able to deal effectively with the persisting evils of lack of economic development, exploitation of the poor tribals by non-tribals and social injustice. 7. The result has been a growing support for the terrorists/ insurgents from sections of the local tribal population. The justified anger of the tribal population has been sought to be exploited by Marxist/Maoist ideologues in order to create and sustain a Maoist style rural uprising to achieve political power. They have convinced themselves that unless they achieve political power through such an uprising, they will not be able to deal effectively with the problems faced by the poor tribals. 8. The State is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the Marxist/Maoist insurgency/ terrorism due to a lack of a coherent strategy. It has created a large and increasingly well- equipped para-military force to deal with the insurgency/terrorism, but has not been able to reverse the tide of anger of the exploited tribals. A coherent strategy has to address simultaneously the questions of security as well as economic development. There cannot be better security without development and there cannot be better development without security. How to ensure both— better security and better development—is a question to which a satisfactory answer has not been found. In the meanwhile, the insurgency/terrorism continues and has even been expanding. 9. The next threat in order of seriousness has been that posed by jihadi terrorists—- indigenous elements as well as Pakistanis belonging to different organizations based in Pakistan, which were born during the US- inspired operations of the Afghan Mujahideen — trained by a triumvirate of the US, Pakistani and Saudi intelligence agencies— against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980 s. 10. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan post-1988 , Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence , which continues to fund, motivate, train, arm and co-ordinate them— diverted them to India to serve its strategic agenda against India. It initially used them in J&K, where it continues to do so and has been using them in other parts of India since 1993. Indian security agencies have been able to deal with the jihadi terrorists—the indigenous kind as well as those from Pakistan— more effectively than with the Marxist/Maoists because the jihadi terrorists have not been able to get the kind of local support that the Marxists/ Maoists have been able to get. 11. While the violence in J&K did assume the proportions of an insurgency similar to the Marxist/ Maoist insurgency in the 1990 s, the jihadi terrorism in the rest of India has remained sporadic and not sustained. The failure of the jihadis to win local support was illustrated in J & K by the large voter turn-out in the last elections and in the rest of the country by the failure of the jihadis to drive a wedge between the Hindu and Muslim communities and to disrupt the economic progress of India. India has managed to achieve and maintain a GDP growth rate of 7 per cent plus despite the desperate efforts of Pakistan to disrupt India’ s economic development by using the jihadis. 12. The lack of local support for the Pakistan-sponsored jihadis is also dramatically illustrated by the failure of Al Qaeda to develop any following in the Indian Muslim community—either in J&K or in other States. India has the world’s third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan. The Indian Muslim community has kept away from Al Qaeda and its ideology. 13. The Indian counter-terrorism strategy has been more coherent when it comes to dealing with jihadi terrorism than it has been in dealing with Marxist/Maoist insurgency/terrorism. The Army has the leadership role in dealing with the threats from jihadi terrorism in J&K, while the police has the leadership role in other States. 14. The active interest taken by the State and civil society in identifying and addressing the problems of the Muslim minority has helped in preventing an aggravation of the sense of alienation among some sections of the Muslims. The easier availability of modern education to the Muslims of India as compared to the inadequate availability to the Muslims of Pakistan has prevented many of the Indian Muslims from gravitating to the madrasas, which are Muslim educational institutions often kept running by the flow of funds from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. 15. The 26 /11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai by a group of sea-borne terrorists of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) exposed certain weaknesses in the Indian counter-terrorism machinery such as an inadequate capability for the collection of preventive intelligence, poor state of physical security in sensitive infrastructure and an inadequate rapid response mechanism. 16. P.Chidambaram, who took over as the Home Minister of the Government of India after the 26 / 11 terrorist strikes, has considerably revamped the counter-terrorism machinery and improved co-ordination. Counter- terrorism co-operation between India and the US has improved to the benefit of India. The US pressure on Pakistan to stop using terrorism against India has not yet had the kind of impact that India would have liked to see, but has apparently made the Pakistani agencies more cautious in their operations against India. 17. A beneficial fall-out of this has been seen in the fact that barring two terrorist strikes of medium intensity in Pune and Benares, there has been no major act of jihadi terrorism since 26 /11. It was also seen in the success of the security arrangements made by the Indian agencies for two major sports events— the Commonwealth Games of October 2010 in New Delhi and the World Cup cricket tournament which was spread all over the country in February-March,2011. 18. Any counter-terrorism campaign against jihadi terrorism cannot be fully effective unless the State of Pakistan is made to give up the use of terrorism as a strategic weapon against India. There are no indications of any change of Pakistani thinking and tactics in this regard despite the obvious restraint that it has been observing since 26 /11 because of the exposure of the role of the ISI in the 26 /11 strikes by the intelligence agencies of both India and the US. 19. A policy-mix of incentives and disincentives designed and executed separately and in tandem by India and the US is required. The initiatives taken by our Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh to improve State-to-State relations with Pakistan despite the persisting public anger in India over the ISI’s role in the 26/11 terrorist strikes are designed to create such an incentive. The continued flow of US economic and military assistance to Pakistan despite mounting evidence of the involvement of the ISI in fomenting terrorism not only in India but also in Afghanistan is also designed to wean Pakistan away from the use of terrorism. 20. While incentives have been plenty, disincentives —whether by India or the US—have been very few. The Pakistani Army and the ISI continue to think that they can get away with the use of terrorism— whether in India or in Afghanistan. They have calculated more rightly than wrongly that because of Pakistan’s strategic location and its importance for maintaining homeland security in the US, Washington will not entertain any serious option of disincentives and will not allow India to embark on such a policy either. 21. This leaves India with an unpleasant dilemma. Should it embark on a policy of disincentives on its own in disregard of US concerns and feelings? If it does, will it be effective in view of the growing US military and intelligence presence in Pakistan ? If it embarks on a policy of disincentives, what impact that will have on the peace initiatives of the Prime Minister? Would it be advisable to continue to exercise patience in order to give the incentives a chance to be effective? These are questions which are being continuously debated by Indian analysts and policy-makers without coherent answers being found. 22. In India, we tend to be over- critical and negative. We keep criticising ourselves and our police all the time. We are given to chest- beating about our so-called failures. We tend to forget that our track record against terrorism and insurgencies is not bad at all. We have had success stories in Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. We are not doing too badly in Jammu & Kashmir and in the fight against jihadi terrorism in other parts of India. Our record against the Maoist insurgency has been above average in Andhra Pradesh and poor in the other States affected by it. 23. The terrorists and insurgents have had some spectacular tactical successes to their credit— the explosion on board the Kanishka aircraft of Air India in June 1985 , the three acts of mass casualty terrorism in Mumbai and the Dantewada massacre of 76 policemen by the Maoists etc. But since India became independent in 1947 , the terrorists and insurgents have not scored any notable strategic success. Strategically, the Indian State and its security set-up have ultimately prevailed despite the tactical set-backs. They never allowed fatigue to set in. Fatigue ultimately set in among the ranks of the terrorists and insurgents and not in the ranks of the State. We have never conceded the illegitimate strategic demands of the terrorists and insurgents even though we might have conceded their tactical demands on occasions as happened during the aircraft hijacking at Kandahar in December, 1999. This is a unique record of which India and Indians ought to be proud. 24. Let us by all means criticise our police, our intelligence agencies, other security agencies and the political class. They have much to answer for. But let us take care not to allow over-criticism to create defeatism. That is what Pakistan and its terrorist organisations want. We should not play into their hands. 25. An ideal State would not allow the phenomenon of terrorism or insurgency to appear in its midst. But once it appears it takes a long time for the police and other security agencies to deal with it. A study of terrorism and insurgencies around the world would indicate that it takes around 15 to 20 years to deal with the menace. In India too, we have taken the same time. Once we are faced with terrorism or insurgency, we need a lot of patience to deal with the menace. Impatience will prove counter- productive. It could make the police and other security forces over-react, thereby aggravating the problem. 26. Let us maintain our capabilities and keep improving them. Let us be sensitive to the demands, grievances and anger of our citizens. Let us be firm but not inflexible in dealing with Pakistan. Let us be patient whether while dealing with the terrorists or with Pakistan. We will prevail in the end. Let there be no doubt about it in anybody’s mind—in India or abroad. (ISI)
"I heard someone shouting ‘Allah-o- Akbar’ and then I heard a huge blast," Ahmad Ali, a wounded Frontier Constabulary (FC) trooper reported, after two suicide bombers attacked FC trainees on May 13 , 2011 , in the Shabqadar tehsil (revenue unit) of Charsadda District, 19 miles from Peshawar, the capital city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province, killing 73 FC personnel and 17 civilians, and injuring another 140. Soon after, claiming responsibility for the attack, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan declared, "This was the first revenge for Osama's martyrdom. Wait for bigger attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan." Significantly, confirming the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2 , 2011 , the TTP spokesman had threatened to attack Security Forces ( SFs). “Pakistan will be the prime target followed by United States (US). The US had been on a man-hunt for Osama and now Pakistani rulers are on our hit- list as we also killed Benazir Bhutto in a suicide attack", the spokesman added in an audio message. The bin Laden killing, however, is more a platform than cause or provocation. The TTP has been executing a relentless stream of attacks against Pakistani SFs from the moment of its formation in the wake of the Army’s Lal Masjid [Red Mosque] operation in 2007 , after which suicide bombings targeting the SFs increased dramatically. An Interior Ministry report published on September 17 , 2007 , conceded that the Lal Masjid military operation had caused an increase in suicide attacks on Army and paramilitary forces. The report also revealed that the SFs were mostly targeted in KP and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Significantly, the Lal Masjid radicals, prior to their declaration of a parallel judicial system to enforce Islamic laws in Islamabad, were trained and supported by the Inter Services Intelligence ( ISI ) to fuel the insurgency in Kashmir, a fact confirmed by Shuja Nawaz, author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army and the Wars Within . Moreover, the Charsadda District, which borders Pakistan’s volatile Mohmand tribal Agency in the FATA, has long been the location of a major Army onslaught against the TTP. Further, Pakistan’s alliance with the US and its, albeit ambivalent, ‘cooperation’ with the US ‘war on terror’ has further escalated TTP violence against Islamabad and the SFs. Conspicuously, on April 3 , 2011 , TTP spokesman Ehsan had reiterated, immediately after the Sakhi Sarwar shrine attack that killed 41 people and injured more than 100 , “Our men carried out these attacks and we will carry out more in retaliation for Government operations against our people in the northwest." Four days before Operation Geronimo killed Osama, the TTP killed nine persons and injured another 64 in two separate attacks at Naval establishments on April 26 and April 28. Claiming responsibility for these attacks, the TTP spokesman had declared, "Security Forces (SFs) will be targeted in the future as well, because they are killing their own people in Waziristan and elsewhere on the behest of the US. Our organisation is still strong in cities of Pakistan"
Between 2001 and May 15 , 2011 , 423 incidents in which the Armed Forces were directly targeted, have been recorded, accounting for at least 1 ,322 SF personnel killed, and another 2 ,582 injured. This data includes the fatalities that occurred as a result of direct attacks either on a military camp, a Police check post or a SF convoy. Overall fatalities among the SFs, including a range of other terrorist incidents in which the SFs were not the primary target, stood at 3 ,631 over the same period. Even more troubling is the fact that, despite the mounting SF fatalities in terrorist attacks across the country, there appears to be a substantial extremist infiltration into the military, and vice versa. Covert state support has hardened and strengthened extremist elements over the years. Immediately after the May 13 suicide attack, an unnamed Police official was reported to concede, “Certainly, the militants have an effective networking and some insiders may be leaking information to them.” More obviously, there is clear collusion between a range of Islamist terrorist formations and the Army and intelligence establishment in Pakistan, even as the SFs struggle to contain ‘ renegade’ groups that have escaped or rebelled against military- intelligence control. The Osama killing itself, within the garrison town of Abbottabad and in close proximity to major military establishments, fairly clearly established the link between state security structures and the terrorist forces. Pakistan’s Army and military intelligence apparatus has evident links with terrorist networks within the country. It is, indeed, the extremist- terrorist spaces created for state supported groups that allow the anti- state groups to flourish as well, since all these are mobilized on a pan- Islamist ideology of jihad that makes clear distinctions between cadres of different groups impossible. Crucially, it is continuing state support to Afghanistan and India directed terrorist groupings that provides the context for domestic terrorism of the TTP variety. Indeed, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has repeatedly accused the ISI of having ties with the Afghan Taliban in the Northwest tribal belt, specifying, further, the links between the Pakistani military intelligence and the Haqqani network, an al Qaeda allied outfit run by Sirajuddin Haqqani and based in the North Waziristan District of FATA. These links have further been confirmed by statements of Pakistani detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, disclosed by WikiLeaks . According to the testimony of one such detainee, Ziaul Shah, his direct supervisor in the Afghan Taliban was a man named Qari Saleem Ahmed, the ‘commander’ of the Punjab Chapter of Taliban, who was reportedly arrested around 1999 for being a member of the Harkat- ul-Mujahideen ( HuM ), Harkatul Jihad al Islami ( HuJI ) and Lashkar-e- Toiba ( LeT ) with “connections to subversive elements of the ISI”. In another revelation, on April 12 , 2011 , Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley alias Daood Gilani and Pakistani-Canadian terrorist Tahawwur Hussain Rana, who allegedly planned and aided the attacks in Mumbai (November 26 , 2008 , also known as 26 /11) , implicated the Pakistani Government and the ISI in the attack. In its second charge sheet in the 26 /11 attacks, the US Government has named a serving ISI officer, Major Iqbal, as a key conspirator charged with providing funds to Headley. Major Iqbal, posted in Lahore during 2007 and 2008 , was handling David Coleman Headley on behalf of the ISI. He provided USD 25 , 000 and fake Indian currency notes to Headley, to meet the latter’s expenses during surveillance operations in India. Headley provided all his surveillance videos first to Major Iqbal and then to the LeT. Such revelations only add to Pakistan’s culture of impunity, with terrorists often going scot-free. The SFs have, of course, launched widespread campaigns against the TTP and some other renegade terrorist factions, including indiscriminate bombing and artillery barrages targeting civilian clusters across KP and FATA. Indeed, Chief of Army Staff (CoAS), General Ashfaq Kayani, in his address at Kakul, the Military Academy at Abbottabad on April 23 , 2011 , had boasted, “The Army has broken the back of militants linked to al Qaeda and TTP and the nation will soon prevail over this menace.” The data on fatalities however, does not indicate any dramatic diminution in the capabilities of anti-Islamabad formations such as the TTP, even as state supported groupings such as the Taliban and the LeT, among others, continue to flourish with visible state support. Despite the rising instability within, and the escalating international pressure on Islamabad, it is evident that the terrorist state, operating in the name of Allah , and its many terrorist proxies and renegades, remain alive and vibrant within Pakistan.